Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Effect of Politics

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how national politics influences my every day life, but this weekend it has become much clearer: I have been called "Sarah Barracuda" about twenty times today.

I have often been called "Sarah Barah," but the family apparently likes Palin's nickname better, and now, well, the end of my name has a "cuda" on the end. It didn't help at all when I went to the beach today and pulled out my goggles only to see that the brand was printed in big letters on the side "Barracuda." Nate laughed and laughed.

Thankfully my sense of identity was affirmed, when at the park, Uncle Sam played me a song that he had written for me when I was a toddler. "Sarah Beth" and "Sarah Liz" are present, but gratefully there is no mention of a barracuda. Thanks, Sam!

(c) Sam Angell, 1985

Angell Family Reunion, Continued

The Angell family reunion continued today with meeting at Nine Partners and at Oswego (where Mom and Dad were married). The reunion ended with a picnic at the Vanderbilt estate on the Hudson.

The "New" Young People's Weekly

In the old Nine Partners Meetinghouse where we attended meeting this morning, Jacob found a Quaker publication from 1947 entitled The New Young People's Weekly.

Interestingly, there was a section of the journal that was dedicated to helping young people form strong marriages because of the concern that, "In the last few years, divorces have increased until there was one for every three marriages."

The advice included in the article was rather elementary and I am not sure of its efficacy, but it was a rather quaint piece that may be enjoyed (click on picture below) as a step into the past by some of our readers who were young in 1947.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eighty-Nine Years

Today all of Dad's family gathered to celebrate Grandad's 89th Birthday. In addition to enjoying vegetables, steak, potatoes and cake at the farm, we ventured to the Hudson with Bentley's Teacup for our boating pleasure.

Happy Birthday, Grandad! And many more!

Present in Pictures: Grandad; Tom (3rd) and Janet and seven children (Isaac was absent); Sam (4th) and Jeanne and three children; Steve (2nd) (wife, Sandra, was absent), Marjorie (1st) and Jim (Charles and Jeremy were absent; Robert Martin, family friend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Human Race: Running at a Different Pace

In a world of winners and losers,
Some are used, some are the users;
It’s a push and shove race
Of trying to get ahead.
In the dust of all the confusion
We make a choice, Truth or illusion;
Will we listen to lies,
Or hear what the Father says?

I started listening to some of Steven Curtis Chapman's music today that was popular over a decade ago. It's funny how my young brain had memorized almost every word of his songs, but how it was only now that my adult brain could grasp what he was communicating.

We are running in a human race,
Where nobody wants to settle for second place;
But we’ve got to run it at a different pace,
‘Cause the first will be last and the last will be first
At the end of the human race.

I remember loving "The Human Race" from childhood, but what struck me today was the important message that winning the prize of Jesus Christ demands that we slow down in our race of pursuing personal success.

In a day when values are changing,
What kind of ground are we really gaining;
Who are we trying to serve by going the extra mile.
We can’t trade the Truth for the fashion;
We’ve got to live a life of compassion,
And those we touch are the prize
That waits at the finish line.

And then I had this mental image in my mind of the whole world racing and I thought of all of the types of people who would finish last - those on crutches, those in wheel chairs, those who can't see, those debilitated, the young children and the mentally ill who may even run the opposite way of the finish line. I realized that here, among the destitute, among those who cannot of their own strength do anything, dwells the heart of a God who cares exceedingly for the orphan and the widow.

That is why the prize of being with Jesus can only be won at the end of the human race; for it is at the end of the human race where we find Jesus himself.

This thought gave me consolation, because Grandpa was in need of much assistance today. As Mom and I wheeled him into the hospital this morning, it was hard to not sense that most people wondered why we were caring for a man who seems to barely be alive.

As a community of Christians, in the multitudes of ways that we individually fulfill the call of caring for the destitute, it is good to be asked, "Why do you slow down your potential, and interests and dreams to care for a person in need?"

I think we ought to say that we make it our aim to finish the human race last and that we purpose to finish this human race pushing folks in wheel chairs, carrying children piggy-back, and guiding the blind.


Because here, at the end of the human race, we find the dwelling of our Almighty God who has purposed to dwell among the lowly (Isaiah 57:15).

I don't think God runs too often at the front of the pack.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hike. Canoe. Swim. Camp. Hike. Sleep.

How refreshing it is to even take just two days to enter into a totally different way of life - showering in a mountain brook, sleeping with just a piece of canvas between you and the sky, cooking rice with a stick, swimming in crystal clear water, canoeing with a lone loon, eating a chocolate bar on the highest mountain in NY, hiking for ten hours at a time, soaking in pure sunshine, laughing uncontrollably with a friend, cutting cheese with a jack knife, wearing clothes that reek of camp smoke and drinking gallons of water - these things make life seem so simple and pure and beautiful.

Laurel and I had the loveliest of times in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks where we camped at the Adirondack Loj at Heart Lake. Laurel is truly a forest ranger at heart. (I was simply her very awestruck understudy.) She knows every flower, every tree, every rock, every bird call, every mountain and every fruit by name. She builds campfires before I can put water in a kettle, she pulls out a map and a compass to mark our location before I can find my water bottle and she carries two rocks up the mountain in her pack to help with restoration projects while I sweat incessantly just carrying a gallon of water and five shirts (!) up a mountain. Needless to say, Laurel is quite the amazing outdoors woman.

We summited two Adirondack Peaks - Mount Jo and Mount Marcy. Mount Jo was a tiny hike to 2876 feet elevation that we did our first day as a warm-up.

Mount Marcy is a much more significant 15-mile round trip hike that climbs over 3000 feet to an elevation of 5,344 feet. We woke up our second day at 5am to cook oatmeal on the fire, dress and make the trail head for Marcy by 6:30am. The hike was fairly intense in my book, but there were some very rewarding spots: hitting Marcy Dam just after sunrise was breath-taking and finding a lovely creek at Indian Falls in which to bathe our salt-crusted faces provided some much needed refreshment. The Van Hoevenberg Trail followed a mountain brook for a good couple of miles and listening to its babble was a very relaxing experience indeed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Good-bye to Our Oregon Brother!

Jake's four-month stay has come to an end with yet another celebration at Bentley (with Laurel and Allie too)! He was pretty excited with the bestowment of cards, visits, phone calls and gifts including a Wave Leatherman with his inscribed name, The Cross and the Switchblade in CD and book form, a cowboy hat, the Eragon DVD and the sequel Eldest in book form...and most importantly a photo album of pictures of the summer from the beginning to the end.

We have appreciated Jake's diligent work. He chopped about four cords of wood, he mowed the farm fields, he stacked hay, hydroseeded, milked cows, extensively landscaped, built fences, sided the south end of the house and did a thousand little things that were appreciated and sometimes even unnoticed.

We may not have made it through the summer without Jake and his humorous impersonations of people. We will miss his enthusiasm, energy and enthusiasm! Did I say enthusiasm?

Good-bye, Jake!

Bentley Farm Gazette will be out of commission for a couple of days due to the fact that the primary author/editor will be in the wilderness.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Showmanship Competition

After our annual breakfast with our "fair grandparents", Lenny and Melody, the showmanship competition began for the youngest four members of the family. Rebecca and Jacob both placed in their respective classes, which was quite significant given the heavy competition.

Well, that concludes our cattle showing for the 2008 season. Except for a sly comment from the judge that our cows were too overconditioned (a.k.a. fat), we were quite pleased (and now exhausted) from the performances of the week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Time to Celebrate... Again

What a busy day! Dad and Caleb ran the souvenir booth at the fair (Caleb is quite the salesman)...Jake and Rebecca went on more thrilling rides...Hannah fell asleep in her chair from one too many 4am risings...and Sean celebrated round two of his birthday tonight with IBC rootbeer, pizza, salad, cake and eighteen people! Isaac came down from vet school with two of his buddies, Steve and Elizabeth. Tsheko came up from Princeton. Sean's parents drove up from Long Island along with his friend, Sarah, and her mother. Wow!

It was the first time that all eight of us Angell kids had been together since Easter. We really like it when we are all together.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Double Birthday: Twenty-Two....Twenty-Five!

Mom planned a double birthday party for our visiting Princeton brother, Sean, and I today at the fair. Sean turns twenty-two tomorrow and I turned twenty-five today.

Terry, Lisa, Greta, Zach, Sean, Jake and the rest of the entire family celebrated with a small feast of scalloped potatoes and ham on the fair lawn.

Grandma and Mom even made birthday cakes to add to the merry occassion!

It was a gorgeous day for rejoicing and the day was made extremely special with lots of thoughtful words and cards from family members and friends.

Becca's birthday gift? A shared chocolate milkshake from the 4-H Dairy booth!

Reporting Almost Live from the DC Fair: Bentley Wins Reserve Junior Champion!

Another great day at the fair for Bentley Farm! Jacob's heifer, Bentley's Vanilla, won Ayrshire Reserve Junior Champion!

This was also the first year that we had three heifers shown simultaneously in the fall yearling class; the judge said, "I understand there are three brothers battling it out in the show ring." (Jacob placed above Nate who placed above Luke.)

Another huge highlight of the Ayrshire open class was New York City's own, Sean Rubin, showing Bentley's Buttercup. Classy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Resurrected Remains of a Bygone Era

Michael Love and Bruce Johnston of the original Beach Boys (with a new backing band) brought the sounds of the 1960s to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds this evening.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ribbons, Rides and Reeling at the Dutchess County Fair

The first day of the Dutchess County Fair ushered in many ribbons for Jacob who won second place in his 4-H showmanship competition and also won 4-H Ayrshire junior grand champion with his fall yearling heifer.
Meanwhile, Jake found himself a home among the rides that turn upside down.

Mom went on a ride too, but she preferred staying right-side-up on a hay wagon. She and Caleb did some puppeteering for the annual fair parade.

Our friends, the Walkers, put on an energized square dance in the hours of the setting sun. Check out their family webpage to listen to their amazing musical talent.

We could dance and reel all evening long! We had the best time.

This is the art display that Sean made to accompany the cows and educate the passerbys.

Don't Blink

I don't think that our friend, Marge Curie, is a big fan of country music, but when I realized that she was turning 102 soon, I couldn't help but share with her some of the lyrics to Kenny Chesney's hit song, Don't Blink. She just smiled and smiled. What a sharp woman who has lived a very full and adventurous life!

I turned on the evening news
Saw a old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what's the secret to life
He looked up from his old pipe
Laughed and said "All I can say is."

Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink

I was glued to my tv when it looked like he looked at me and said
"Best start putting first things first."
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip it over and start again
Take every breath God gives you for what it's worth
- Kenny Chesney

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grandma's New Car

This week our dear Grandma became the proud driver of a spanking new Honda Accord.

Hiking to the Highest

Nate and Sean took a weekend trip to the Adirondacks to camp and hike Mount Marcy. Mount Marcy holds the favored title of New York's highest peak (5,344 feet). The guys cooked hot dogs and s'mores for dinner at their camp site and then began the 15-mile hike at 8 am Saturday.

Splitting Wood

The time of year has come to gather the fruit of the warm weather and sunshine and store it for the cold winter months. For those at Bentley, this means that the time of wood-chopping and stacking has come. We need 96 full wagon loads of chopped wood to bring us through the winter!

Our best splitter is our Oregon brother, Jake. He splits wood like no other. His technique includes jumping in the air. Our cutest and most stylish splitter is Rebecca. She splits wood in polka-dot red rain boots.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A New Thrill!

I did my first sprint triathlon (0.5 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 5 kilometer run) today with three friends at Harriman State Park and I loved it! There was so much energy and excitement in the air. Everyone (about 360 participants) was encouraging and friendly! The weather was wonderful and the water was a great temperature for swimming!

The swim was the easiest. I was nervous that I would feel clobbered, but my fears were quickly abated. The hardest part of the swim was feeling like I could go faster, but not being able to because I was boxed in by people. Anyhow, the swim was definitely a wonderful beginning to the race.

The bike ride was gorgeous as we passed by several lakes and through shaded woods. It was a quite hilly and curvy route, so unfortunately some people wiped out; the wipe-outs were depressing to pass. The bike ride was exhilarating and even the 600-foot climb in 1.5 miles wasn't too bad.

The run was the hardest part for me. The route had no firm footing and a ton of loose rocks, old black top and it had a lot of small hills. The real trick was getting my running cadence after having just figured out a good bike stride. After I found my rhythm I was set, but it was rough going until that point, and I ended up walking up a couple hills.

I crossed the finish line at 2:09:32 (Race Results)! I was so excited with my time because I was expecting it to be much longer. Next year's goal is to finish in under 2 hours!

It was so fun to do the race with my friends Becky, Laurel and Mary Claire (who all placed in their age divisions) - it built quite the camaraderie. It was also super special to have people cheering for me at each transition point - namely all our moms, some family friends and Jake!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Layer Cakes, Guests and Music

Mom, Grandma and Sean made a fancy pink layer cake to welcome Andrew Goetz (Princeton friend) and his family to the farm today. We were also visited by some of our farming friends and their little one-year-old who is too adorable with her blue eyes and blonde hair. A good evening of eating cake and singing ensued.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Farm Show Flashback

During the first week of August, Hannah and her friend, Allie, joined Isaac and Eric in Seneca Falls for "Empire Farm Days." This farm show event is a farming and tractor supply store on steroids.

The farm show highlights the newest equipment and strategies available to the modern farmer. In case you doubt the popularity of such an event, it may be of interest to note that the farm show is attended by about 60,000 - 70,000 people. Part of the "Farm Days" attraction may just lie in the fact that you can drive trucks, tractors and four-wheelers. You can also eat good food and get free hats!

The Beginning of the End

The first sign of summer's end has come: Hudson Valley Concerts in the Park sponsored their last summer concert. Tonight's selection was a local country music band. We will miss this weekly excuse to spend time with family friends.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fulfillment Frugality and Assigning Price Tags

The sign in the bakery where I ate lunch today said that flour costs were skyrocketing because of the increased agricultural demand for corn-based ethanol.

The other day at the grocery store, while buying fruit, I overheard a gentleman joke that he thought he could grow rich just by planting a nectarine tree, given their outrageous price.

I watch the price tags of these items as an interested learner. If there is any value in being frugal, then I need to learn that which is worth its high price tag and that which should best be ignored. This is hard for me because I tend to just buy things and not worry about their cost.

In contemplation of economic frugality, which is of minimal interest to me, I have found myself expanding my thoughts of price tags to the consideration of life at large. Specifically I have coined a phrase in my mind: "fulfillment frugality."

"Fulfillment frugality" is simply a statement of my observation that the people who are most fulfilled in this life have something in common - they know the pursuits of life that are worth a high price and those that are worth a cheap price.

It seems like people who have figured out life put a really expensive price tag on relationships. They pour their time, energy, devotion and investments into friendships, community, harmony with the land, family, hard work and development of character.

These same fulfilled people, however, put a cheap price tag on the pursuit of wealth, vanities, the accumulation of possessions and personal glorification.

In other words, people who are fulfilled in the way they live life, are frugal. They have simply learned what is worth a high price tag in life and what is best assigned a cheap one.

This assignment of value often gets so disordered. Entropy would have us buy cheap relationships and expensive vanities only to arrive at the end of our days completely bankrupt of fulfillment.

In avoidance of this end, we must learn to properly assign price tags and practice the virtue of frugality.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pretty Impressive!

Nate, Sean and a professor of German from Princeton who is visiting the farm woke up in the dawning hours of the day to make the rest of us a special breakfast treat - chocolate chip scones. They were the best scones we have ever had - slighltly crusty on the outside and moist on the inside. I think all these bachelors deserve some amazing recognition.

Thanks to Sean's mother for sharing her great recipe!

Unwrapping Gifts

God's greatest gifts can often be received only where grace is present in abundance. Without grace we are never strong enough to unwrap the paper of discipline and suffering that God often uses to package His most precious gifts.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

When You Don't Own an Entertainment Center

Even though we all are quite content to not watch TV, every so often, on rare occassion, there is some show that we all just want see. The Internet usually makes this possible, but we have no entertainment center. Grandma's kitchen table makes a humorous substitute!

New York in Bloom

No matter how far you roam, there is no place like home!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mom's Fifty!

Mom celebrated 50 years of life today! She and Dad spent the afternoon hiking and then we all met up for dinner at Mariner's Harbor on the Hudson.

The restaurant allowed us to dine right at the water's edge. The breeze off of the river was lovely, and we were enamored with the ducks and huge carp that swam beside the docks. Too bad that Hannah and Isaac had to be in Ithaca, but thankfully Sean and Jake were able to fill the gap!

Happy birthday to a wonderful mother!

Monday, August 04, 2008

On Planks, Logs and the Internet

I hold different pieces of my understandings and belief with varied degrees of certainty. There are quite a few positions that I hold as in a mirror dimly, trusting and seeking that coming day when all shadows and forms are removed and the purity of light reveals the face of the true substance.

There are also some beliefs that I maintain, that are so fundamental to my understanding of life and existence, that without them everything would become clouded and uncertain. Most fundamentally, I believe that the God of the Scriptures, my God, is a God who intervenes in the lives of normal people and changes them. This, to me, is the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. Who I am today, is not who I am tomorrow. Who I was yesterday does not ever dictate who I am or who I will be.

I reflect upon these convictions in light of what is currently the most emailed article, If You Run a Red Light, Will Everybody Know?, from the NY Times. This article describes a newly developed service that allows anyone to search criminal records for free. Although public access to criminal records is not a new development, the NY Times reports: "Academics have a term for the old inaccessibility of records like those for criminal convictions: “practical obscurity.” Once upon a time, people in search of this data had to hire private investigators to navigate byzantine courthouses and rudimentary filing or computer systems, and to deal with often grim-faced legal clerks."

Now, however, in the privacy of a home, with a birth date, a name and a website, anyone who is even just playfully interested in the past shortcomings of another person can be rewarded in moments.

From every perspective that I have tried to understand this, Hester Prynne with her crimson "A" in The Scarlet Letter always comes out ahead of any modern person who has a criminal past.

I understand that patterns and habits are hard to break. I actually understand that best through self-observation. But I know, with all certainty, that people can change, that habits can be broken and that the scummiest person can become a saint. I know that sometimes change is rare, but the message of the cross offers every rotten sinner the freedom and hope of change.

To confine a person to their past, is very cruel indeed. It is, as if to say, "There is no future for you."

I think that there is a reason that the true Book of Judgment is closed to human eyes. Our eyes are not fit to look readily upon another's sin. Would that we could hear Jesus say to us that he who speaks to his brother angrily is a murderer and that he who looks upon a woman lustfully is an adulterer.

Oh, for societal grace to see the logs in our own eyes, and not be so readily taken with the planks in another's eyes. Oh, for decency to offer a person a hope and a future. Oh, for a love that looks at potential and not at patterns. Oh, for a discipline that restrains curiosity and respects trust.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I Will Be Here

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
and the sun does not appear
I will be here
If in the dark, we lose sight of love
Hold my hand, and have no fear
'Cause I will be here
I will be here
When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to cryin'
Through the winning, losing and trying
We'll be together
I will be here
Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I will be here
Just as sure as seasons were made for change
Our lifetimes were made for these years
So I will be here
I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here
I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me
Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I will be here
Oh, I will be here. (Stephen Curtis Chapman)

(All pictures are from Hood River, Oregon, where Brenna, my junior-year college roommate, wedded today.)

5k Race!

Isaac, Nathaniel, Jake, Hannah, Rebecca and Caleb all ran a 5k race today as a fundraiser for The CareNet Pregnancy Center. All did well!

Nate finished third in his age division, and has really gotten this running thing figured out. Good thing, because he already has plane tickets to run a marathon in Hawaii at the end of this year.

Isaac ended up carrying Rebecca part of the way because she had cramps due to a big breakfast of sausage and french toast right before the start of the race!

Jake did a great job, finishing just after Nate. He called me to let me know that he had some "spanking new kickers that Dad bought me." They must have been good sneakers!

Hannah ran with my coming triathlon partner, Laurel. They both finished in under thirty minutes.

Caleb ran a 1/2 mile race and finished fourth. Nice job!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Garfield Peak at Crater Lake, Oregon

With a day to spare between my final exam in Seattle and a wedding in Oregon, I decided to continue working on my tour of the National Parks. Today's destination was Crater Lake, Oregon, located in the south-central part of the state.

Wow! What an impressive hole was made in the earth when Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed into itself about 7,700 years ago!

The drive into the park in my red Toyota Yaris rental had the same effect on my knees as a thrilling roller-coaster drop. The white line of the road, which was crumbled at places, was the very edge of a 1000-foot cliff. There was no gaurd rail for my peace of mind. This was intense! I tried to drive in the middle of the road really, really slowly and I prayed that no car would come in the opposite direction.

The lake is quite astounding, and well worth a scary drive. I hiked Garfield Peak (8,100 feet) from Rim Village (7, 100 feet). The trail was quite sooty, as if a volcano had erupted 7,700 years ago. There was not much wildlife along the trail. A park ranger told me that elk come out occassionally and that every once in a while a fox appears. I mostly saw butterflies, bees and flies!

One very strange thing about Crater Lake is that it rarely freezes in the winter, but the area has snow that remains in the region throughout the summer. I walked by quite a bit of snow today, which was weird because I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

New Siding, New Windows

Now, a round of applause for those who labor in the heat of the sun to shingle and "window" the house - Nate, Jake and Lawerence!